Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A (No-Spoilers) Review of "Revival"

2014 is winding down toward its end, and yesterday brought a nice late-year treat: a new Stephen King novel.  As has been the case the past few times Uncle Steve released a new book into the wild, I took a couple of vacation days so I could digest it promptly.
  
And now, here I am, sharing my opinion of it with you fine folks.
  
  
   
  
I wish I could tell you I loved it.  
  
And I could.  I could lie to you.  And while we're on the subject, say . . . did I ever tell you about the time I was an astronaut?  Yeah, it was pretty wild.  See, the Earth had started to wilt, and so NASA decided to send a mission to another galaxy to hopefully find a new planet for us all to go live on, and guess who captained that mission?  That's right: me.  Yeah, sure enough: it was pretty wild.
  
That sounds a bit like the setup for the movie Interstellar, doesn't it?  Guess what?  It is.  That's not MY story at all.
  
But that didn't stop me from lying about for the duration of a few sentences.
  
So, yeah: I could lie to you about Revival and tell you I loved it.  I won't do that, though.
  
Instead, I'll restrict myself to saying that I liked it.  Mostly.  Among recent King works, I'd say it comes in on the lower end of the spectrum; it's not up to par with Joyland or The Wind Through the Keyhole, and doesn't even approach 11/22/63.  It might be better than Doctor Sleep and Mr. Mercedes; I'd have to think about it for a while to say for sure.
  
The novel is relatively short (just over 400 pages), but it has a great deal of scope to it.  I want to keep this review as free of detail as possible, for the benefit of those who will be reading it in the next few days; however, I don't think it will give too much away to say that it spans quite a few decades in the life of its main character, Jamie Morton.
  
You'll get to know Jamie as a little boy, and as a teenager, and as a middle-aged man, and as an old(ish) man.  King writes the novel first-person from Jamie's perspective, and one of the results is that, as with Joyland, the novel becomes about remembrance and the passage of time as much as it is about anything else.
  
Take that approach, sprinkle it with a dash of "1922" here and a dash of The Body there (in terms of tone and style, that is, not in terms of plot); stir in a generous portion of the ruthlessness of Pet Sematary; add a pinch of "The Little Green God of Agony" and a dash of "The Night of the Tiger"; season it with The Green Mile; and turn the older Danny Torrance of Doctor Sleep into a guy who can play the guitar rather than a guy who has psychic powers.  Voila; a recipe that (more or less) results in Revival.
  
So why doesn't it work?  The novel is exceptionally well-written; it's nicely paced; and, despite my reductive list of "ingredients," it doesn't feel so much like a King-greatest-hits collection as another piece of evidence that King is still growing and developing as a writer and a storyteller.  
  
So . . . again: why doesn't it work?
  
We'll have to explore the answer to that in a few weeks, when I return to the novel in a less spoilerphobic review.  For now, though, I can only conclude that the novel's eventual direction seems to be somewhat at odds with its initial direction(s).  That's an awfully vague assessment, I know; but for now, it's the best I can do.
  
I would like to add two things before I sign off:

First: it is entirely possible that a reread will change my mind entirely.  It's a slender enough novel that I am considering reading it a second time, just to be sure.  Until such time as that reread happens, part of me wants to hold out hope that this is a case of a poor reading job on my part moreso than it is a case of a novel I simply didn't end up liking all that much.  It wouldn't be the first time; and King is a much better writer than I am a reader.  So, who knows?
  
Second: there is a substantial religious subplot running through the novel.  It might be incorrect to call it a subplot, too; it might be THE plot.  I'll have to consider that.  There have been a few King interviews from the past couple of years in which King -- never one to shy away from bringing religion and spirituality into his works -- has gone on the record as being a believer.  He's said as much in a few of the interviews which have accompanied the release of Revival.  I see zero reason whatsoever not to take King at his word.  However, I have to say . . . Revival does not, to my eyes, read like the work of a man who believes in God.  This is neither a positive nor a negative, as far as critiquing the book goes; whatever it is it IS, and that's good enough for me.  But my knee-jerk reaction is to squint a bit and tentatively raise my hand, because what teacher told me and what teacher wrote on the board . . . well, they don't entirely seem to match, do they?
  
All this requires contemplation.
  
So, I'll bottom-line it for you: 370 or so pages of this 405-page novel thrilled me.  The last few chapters deflated me.  I've seen a few prominent King critics indicate that those final pages scared them as much as anything King has ever written.  I wish I had been moved the way they were; I, instead, felt like I was observing a basketball player go up for a slam dunk, only to have the ball bounce back out of the hoop and go flying back in the other direction.
  
I hope to find out that I just missed something, somehow.
  
I fear I didn't.
  
Hit the comments section and let me know what you thought!

46 comments:

  1. Haven't read this yet, but I'm hoping that since much of it is a period piece, it will improve on one (minor) issue I've had with King's work lately: the dialogue. It just seems like he doesn't have an ear for how people talk any more. This was particularly evident in Mr. Mercedes and even more so in the screenplay for A Good Marriage. It's understandable to some degree. He's an older man with a job that doesn't require much face-to-face interaction with the public and (presumably) friends and acquaintances who are mostly of the same generation. Nevertheless it is an issue, in my opinion, and one that wasn't evident in 11/22/63, Joyland, or even Blockade Billy (not that THAT glorified short story is on par with even the weakest of his recent novels) and I think it's because in those books he's dealing with time periods when he was perhaps more actively engaged with the outside world on a day-to-day basis. Have you noticed this as well and is it an issue in Revival at all?

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    1. Hmm. I'd have to think about that. My gut reaction is to say that I feel dialogue -- naturalistic dialogue, at least -- has never really been one of his strengths. But to be honest, I can't really say it's an aspect to which I've paid much attention.

      "Revival" didn't strike me as being particularly poor in that area. Then again, neither did "Mr. Mercedes" (apart from Jerome's faux-Ebonics), so who knows?

      King does strike me as a guy who is relatively plugged-in when it comes to pop culture, at the very least; so I'm sure he hears a good bit of the Voice Of 2014 from television and movies, if nothing else. Does it translate to his books?

      That's probably for a keener mind than mine to determine.

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    2. I was also pleased to see this set (mostly) in the recent past, because the awkwardness of some of the more contemporary dialogue is something that's bothered me in a handful of the more recent books. (Especially when he's writing younger characters.) It's not too bad--and I agree that dialogue is not necessarily his best aspect, anyway--but every now and then it interrupts my immersion in the story. That wasn't so much a problem here for me.

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    3. Other than "Mr. Mercedes" (which is a different case anyways), the only time I can think of that I actively thought "Boy, this dialogue does not work!" is Charlie's dialogue in "Firestarter." It sounds absolutely nothing like what a little girl sounds like.

      Writing kids' dialogue is impossible, though (I assume). They mostly sound like lunatics in the real world, in my experience.

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  2. I agree that this was solid without being remarkable, but re: religion, and the difference between the feel of King's book and his stated beliefs, I think there's a reason for that. Basically--and there are parts of this that I want to save for the spoiler review comment section--I think that one of the reasons King promoted this book as being so terrifying is because many aspects of it, including the cosmological/religious parts, are directly antithetical to his own beliefs about how the world either does work or should work. The "empty or malign" cosmos in Revival seems to me like King looking at what he believes and/or wants to believe about God, the afterlife, etc., and then turning it inside-out--so to me this reads like the nightmare of someone who *does* believe in God. Like Revival is the shadow cast by what he actually thinks.

    I think this ties in really interestingly to the handful of Dark Tower references in the text, and I have a theory about that too, but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone.

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    1. It might be that your idea regarding King's idea of a secular nightmare is right on the money. Something like that crossed my mind; I initially dismissed it because I wasn't sure I saw how it would work within the broader scope (not just of this particular story, but King's overall work).

      I look forward to hearing your Dark Tower theory!

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    2. Same here re: your thoughts on possible Tower connections, Zoe.

      So far the books been fun for me, I'm not finished yet, but I will say my biggest thought so far is that King has taken the protagonist of Pet Semetary and made him into a more straight up (yet tragic) villain.

      ChrisC

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    3. Zoe -- it's looking like it may be a while before I get to my revisit and re-review. I would love to hear what you have to say about the potential Dark Tower connections, though, so feel free to go ahead and let loose with 'em here.

      Or, if you think this is the wrong venue for it, might I suggest visiting this blog post (at Dog Star Omnibus, which is authored by one of this blog's best friends):

      http://mcmolo.blogspot.com/2014/11/kings-highway-pt-77-revival-review.html

      There's plenty at DSO for King fans to enjoy, and there's already some good conversation about "Revival" going on, so if you drop by, tell Bryan that Large Marge sent ya!

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    4. This is very belated! I've got to check things more often. Well--never let it be said that I let a measly two month delay keep me from spouting off literary conspiracy theories!

      First off, let me shore up my claim that Revival is connected to the DT-verse. This is pretty easy to do. Jamie’s dad’s stock-car has the “number 19 emblazoned on its side”; Jamie’s band used to be the Gunslingers, now they’re the Chrome Roses. Maybe one of these references would pass as a cheeky wink on King’s part, but not both of them, especially not with the doubled band names. (And there may be more of these references that I’ve missed or forgotten.) So Revival doesn’t exist on its own—it takes place “on a level of the Tower,” within the larger universe of the Dark Tower series and its related books.

      Now I need to diverge slightly in order to talk a little bit about why I think King talked this book up so much before its release as not just a straight horror novel but an extremely horrifying novel: I don’t think it was just hype. I think, as I said in my earlier post here, that there’s a lot about Revival that’s specifically rooted in King’s personal fears. It isn’t just the afterlife, it’s everything. (Edited roughly a thousand times to keep me from going on for paragraphs about King’s theology. I tend to like how King writes about God.)

      For a Tower-related example, Jamie and Jacobs are the inverse of a ka-tet. Jamie longs to believe that they were brought together not by fate or God (as in ka-tet) but by coincidence, because all they did together caused destruction, and the loss of all Jamie’s faith—not just in God but in the light. They also don’t grow closer together—when Jamie is a child, they’re friendly and loyal to each other; when he’s an adult, he’s grateful to Jacobs but mistrustful of him; and by the time Jamie’s headed into his sixties, he hates and fears Jacobs, and Jacobs blackmails him into working as a tool. Even their goodbyes get less and less intimate: compare the hug when Jacobs leaves Jamie the first time to the letter when he leaves him the second. If they are a ka-tet, you couldn’t get a more dysfunctional one.

      But that’s what Revival specializes in: looking at the dark underside of King’s actual and optimistic beliefs.

      If it were just that, though, the Dark Tower references wouldn’t serve much purpose. But really their purpose is fundamental: they show us that Revival isn’t a worst-case scenario, it’s a nightmare. Its aim is to terrify you, but you can wake up from it—even Jamie could, if he thought about it.

      (cont.)

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    5. On the most basic, trap door-level: the afterlife of Revival cannot be real within the world of the novel because Revival is a Dark Tower book, and we’ve seen the aftermath of death in the Dark Tower: we know about “other worlds than these” and “the clearing at the end of the path,” we know about God and/or Gan, and we know about ka, and we know they’re all consistent throughout the levels of the Tower (different levels may have different versions, but you’d have a hard time arguing that any of them could have this). This makes Mother into just another Crimson King—a monster or a demon, but not any force powerful enough to control everyone in the world after they die. So Mother is what Jamie would like to believe her to be: a liar.

      So if you’re worried about poor Jamie, everybody, don’t be: he’s going to be fine (once he dies, anyway).

      But King isn’t content with nesting this reassurance only in coded references for Dark Tower fans only: the basics of it are in the text itself. What Jamie tells us about Null, and Mother’s control over it, is rife with suggestive inconsistencies. For one thing, when Jamie glimpses it, the dead workers are desperate but still human—they try, for example, to help each other. If Mary Fay came back in a panic to relate a world of horror and suffering, her account would be plausible, but she doesn’t: she comes back as a conduit and a device of Mother’s, not just insane but possessed, and very unlike what Jamie “saw.” It’s Pet Sematary all over again: she came back wrong. You wouldn’t believe what Gage Creed told you about what it was like to be dead, because you would know that what you were talking to wasn’t really Gage Creed.

      Then there’s Mother’s reaction to Jamie’s violent “no.” This opposition enrages her—but why? If she’s going to have control over Jamie anyway, why does she care what he thinks beforehand? Calm contempt would have sold the moment as truth: “Just wait. You’ll see.” She’s not a Lovecraftian monster maddened by any hint of struggle—she’s throwing a tantrum, and killing everyone she can, because Jamie’s “no” suggests he can see the figure behind the curtain. This is a debatable point—you could argue, if you wanted, that she’s simply not used to being opposed, but really, no one cries NO as they’re being worked in endless “no light, no rest” by giant cosmic ants? I would say that all the time.

      And Jamie himself is inconsistent about the consequences of his “no,” first saying that Mother wants to kill him for it and then saying that she wants to keep him alive to suffer, which begs the question, why, exactly? Why toy with him on Earth, like a cat with a mouse, where her powers are confined to insanity, when she could have him completely in her control at death? Simple: because she won’t. This is something everyone else seems to know—they’re driven mad by visions of Null but they kill themselves anyway, to get their faster? These people aren’t afraid of death: they’re looking to escape into it to get away from an unbearable life. Jamie suggests towards the end of the novel that they kill themselves only because they don’t know that this is what’s waiting, but that’s decidedly inconsistent (the magic word of Revival) with the suicide note we see.

      (cont.)

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    6. Close attention to these inconsistencies—and especially a working knowledge of the Dark Tower series—makes Revival ultimately into a tragedy. Jacobs couldn’t handle the uncertainties of Christianity, and in his quest for certainty, he saddled himself and Jamie both with a far harsher and less bearable uncertainty (wouldn’t you prefer trying to believe in God to trying not to believe in Null, if you were Jamie?). The way out of it would mean rejecting Jacobs’s electric tricks for what they have always been—tricks and lies, not miracles at all (an idea which is in the novel from Jacobs’s lake model).

      My theory of all of this is that King wanted to write the grimmest, most unbearable novel he could think of, a novel in which there was no hope, but because this premise didn’t match his actual beliefs, he either consciously or unconsciously (my vote, for the record, is for consciously) seeded Revival with material to suggest (the inconsistencies) or even essentially state (the Dark Tower references) that there’s hope after all. It’s a horror novel with a trap door into the light that becomes a tragedy because the characters never find it. This makes it a powerful book about despair, and I think makes it far more profound than it initially seems—I like it much more having thought all this out.

      (end. Wow, that was long!)

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    7. Dadgum, Zoe...! This stuff is AWESOME!

      I will definitely be keeping it in mind when I reread and reassess the novel (which IS still going to happen, although I'm not sure exactly when).

      I especially like your comparison of Mary Fay to Gage Creed. That's quite persuasive.

      You know . . . sometimes I kind of get bummed out because I can never quiiiiiite manage to turn this blog into what I want it to be. But if THIS is the sort of comment I'm getting, then clearly I'm doing something right.

      Thanks a bunch for this contribution! Wonderful stuff through and through.

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    8. Aw, thanks. :-)

      This book just kept nagging at me with that feeling, like you said above, that it didn't jibe with the rest of King's work, and while there's no obligation for an author to be consistent, something made me keep thinking about this one until all of a sudden things started clicking into place. I'm glad it sounds reasonable!

      And for the record, I think this is an excellent blog, really great for discussion and close readings (and funny, too). I loved your detailed analysis of Needful Things, and I'm really looking forward to new posts when you're able to jump back in (but no pressure: I understand wanting to concentrate on other things for a while). But you should definitely be proud of the site!

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    9. Thanks -- that is a wonderful compliment!

      I look forward to rereading the novel with your thoughts about it in mind. Just gotta find time to do it!

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    10. Well, having recently completed a reread of the novel (and a four-part series analyzing certain aspects of it [by which I mean rambling a lot]), I'd say I'm much more impressed by it. I enjoyed rereading your comments here again, too. I think you make some fantastic points, but one thing that really struck me during the reread -- or, more precisely, during my analysis -- is how similar Jamie is to King. I'm not sure how that impacts a consideration of the novel's theological implications, but it certainly tempts a biographical reading.

      Anyways, thanks again for the wonderful comments!

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  3. Bummer. I've heard how "shocking" the last 50 pages are for the last couple months, but no one has actually said the last 50 pages were "good". Which is what I would have liked to have heard. Oh well.
    I actually thought about buying the actual book but now I'm glad I will just enjoy a 13 hour story rather than rushing through the print book (which is what I always do with an SK book...must get to end...aaarggh)
    -mikeC

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    1. One plus to audiobooks: they do force you to take it at the reader's speed.

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    2. I have 2 discs to go but I have to say the narrator is excellent in this one.
      mikeC

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    3. That's David Morse, who co-starred in "The Langoliers," "The Green Mile," "Hearts in Atlantis," and "Horns." I'm glad to hear he's a good narrator; I was happy when he was announced.

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  4. I'll go on the record as saying I enjoyed the whole book including the last 50 pages. I felt the ending properly finished up a great story and I was sufficiently creeped out. I'm not always satisfied with a King ending. In my opinion From a Buick 8 needed at least another 50 pages. This one worked for me.

    There's a lot to love here... The pacing is perfect, the characters are interesting and relatable. The writing is, as always, top notch.

    I love it when King deals with expanses of time, as he does here. 11/22/63 is my favorite of all his titles that I have read. He handles time brilliantly here as well.

    I couldn't put it down. That's the true test.

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    1. You're right -- he does an excellent job of depicting the passage of time. That element is part of what makes "It" my favorite of his novels.

      I disagree that not being able to put a book down is its true test. If you reread it, and can't pit it down even though you already know what's going to happen . . . that's the true test, for me.

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  5. Some non-spoiler ruminations on Revival.

    First, does it deliver chills? In other words, is it scary? Well, I definitely know I was unsettled at the end, although, going over it, I'm still left wondering why, exactly.

    Does that mean it's a good book? Well, if your terms of judging a book are based on a more emotional approach, then I guess yes, although I do wonder about the possibility of diminishing returns, yet going back, I still find a not entirely unpleasant tingle up the spine.

    How about in terms of story? Does it overall hold together? I'd have to say that, yes it does. Does that mean it's a good book? I will at least say that it counts for a lot ( I don't know how much) in terms of a books overall success.

    Does this mean I'd class it among King's best? That's where I'm more hesitant, and on shakier ground. Is it good? I'd say yes? Is it as good as It, or the Shining? I'd have to say it's a bit lower, yet not at all bottom of the barrel. If I had to give it a place, I would, once again, situate it next to Pet Semetary and put the on a slightly even footing, with Semetary beating out Revival by a few points.

    Does the novel tackle religion? It is at least one of the major themes, however, my own reading is that the story is much more about the same themes as Semetary in that it deals with the costs of either not believing or not having some kind of faith.

    To be continued

    Yeah, sorry, but there is at least some food for thought here.

    ChrisC

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    1. Continued from above.

      Some thoughts on faith, and Revival.

      In post-release interview on the Today Show, King goes on record as saying "I like to think that people can make a differentiation between the "character" and the "man" who wrote the character". What that seems to mean is that Jacobs' Terrible Sermon isn't a viewpoint he's endorsing. For my part, it sounds to me a lot like something Karl Marx or someone like that would say, even when read in context. At least that's how it appears to me.

      So does the novel address questions of faith? My complex response is: well, yes and no, really. Technically, I guess it all depends on what one means by faith or belief (and boy this sure ain't a conversation I thought I'd ever be having over a King book, of all things; never thought anyone regarded it as important, really).

      For me, while faith is a topic that is brought up again and again, there's another word that is mentioned only once outright, and then more through implication and insinuation. That word is "trickery", and it's possibly the second most, maybe even more important theme of the story, especially as to how one looks at the ending.

      Does trickery happen in this tale? I think there's a lot of it to go around as the story progresses, and various varieties. Does any of this bear on the Terrible Sermon? That is much more hard to say. In the Sermon, all religion is equated with trickery and for Jacobs, that is more or less that. However, it can be argued he then falls for a "real" trickery, and one even he couldn't have thought up in terms of religion.

      To be concluded (again, sorry, food for thought).

      ChrisC

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    2. Continued from above.

      So what does this mean in terms of the question of faith? For real life? Very little, I'd argue. For the novel? Well, again, the question is continually brought up, yet I'm not sure it's given any resolution. Nor do I think that should count as a strike against the novel. The reason has to do with the contention that what the novel's ultimate concern with isn't faith, or at least not so much faith in terms of religion, but rather belief in connection with "trickery". In a way, I suppose King should have gone ahead and listed Philip K. Dick as a possible influence as well as Lovecraft, because while the ending does owe a great deal horror fiction's "Great Old Author", the overall elements of the ending seem to owe an equal amount to PKD in as much as the end does hinge on the two words: belief and trickery.

      Another related topic is how this book should be viewed in terms of the rest of the King cannon. Does it count for inclusion, or should it be considered optional or non-cannon? I'd argue that it should be included. The interesting part is when one tries to fit it into what's been written before. Overall, I don't see it disturbing any real continuity in any really big way, especially when you factor in the themes of belief and trickery.

      What does all this say about the quality of the story? Well, like I said, I'm willing to lump it just below Semetary and leave it at that. How does it fair with the rest of King's work? I guess somewhere in the middle. If I have to state a belief (har) as to what makes a story work, I can only once more point to the Jungian concept of Archetypes, plus the author's skill in realizing them on either page or screen. I think these might have been realized well enough, yet despite my thinking the book solid, I can see people not paying as much attention to it as works like It.

      What's to be gleaned from that? Well, my best guess is that while we don't reading these sorts of stories, for whatever reason, we always gravitate towards the positive more often than not.

      What does that mean? I actually think King provides the best answer when, in an interview during the Red Sox Success at the World Series, he stated "Well, I just believe in happy endings".

      ChrisC

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    3. For a guy who believes in happy endings, he sure does have a history of writing unhappy ones. Not that "Revival" counts as a happy ending; it probably doesn't. But, for me, it feels like the story wanted to be even darker and more unhappy than it ended up being, but King wouldn't let it go in that direction. Maybe that's my problem with the novel; it doesn't feel honest in the way his work typically does.

      I'll have to think about that some more; I'm not sure I actually agree with what I just typed!

      I agree with your mid-level placement. Definitely beneath "Pet Sematary." Not even close to it, I'd say.

      The idea of belief and trickery has some resonance, especially given how much time I've spent recently with "Needful Things," within which the ideas (belief and trickery) obviously have great import.

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    4. Interestingly enough - and to further my reputation as the crazy-guy-of-King-rankings - I think it's a much better novel than Pet Sematary.

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    5. I think the crazy-guy of King rankings is probably King himself: he lists "Lisey's Story" as being his best book!

      *shudder*

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    6. Yeah, that's a good point. Hard to beat the King at this own game, there!

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  6. I felt this book had the same problem as Dr Sleep: once the protagonist overcomes his problems (in the first half of the book) he becomes a completely boring cipher. Jacobs is supposed be his shadow, a ghost that haunts him all his life but that he feels some affection for - but whenever they interact it just seems like a grumpy old man and a guy sort of tolerating him - there's no fire in their relationship.

    The payoff is great but it feels more like the ending of a short story. The whole book feels like a novella that's been stretched out, not with incident but with filler.

    The beginning is excellent and more indication that King should stick with period pieces (even for the plot, because looking up Youtube videos is not riveting literature).

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    1. That was a question I asked myself as well, whether or not it would work as a short story. I can't say I have many complaints, really. As for whether Jacobs was supposed to be Jaimie's shadow, I saw him more as like a background influence more than anything else, and I think the idea King was going for was that Jacobs is more a molding influence than an outright Shadow. The idea being that it's more the subtle, unknown influences that shape the kind of person the narrator becomes.

      Looked at from this perspective, and considering the nature and closing setting at the end, it seems like King is asking the audience to question the very nature and truth of all that's come before when we realize just what kind of person has been telling us this story, or at least that's the vibe I came away with.

      Is such an ending more suitable to short stories and novellas? I don't know, maybe, but who can say. I don't think there's a problem with Pet Semetary's ending, even if it is the ultimate downer, but like I said, maybe it's just that people prefer a lighter outcome after investing so much energy in a character.

      I'll tell you one thing, I definitely prefer the ending to the movie version of Die Hard to the one provided by it's source novel.

      ChrisC

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    2. I had much the same thought about "Revival" at some point while reading it: that it was a novella blown out to novel length. I wouldn't call any of it "filler," exactly (except maybe for the somewhat gratuitous relationship with the younger woman); but then, I was interested in Jamie.

      Because of that, I'd have to dispute the claim that he becomes a boring cipher. In Jamie,we have a guy who has been given a second chance at life; but he's in the interesting position of having been artificially cured of his addictions, which means that he has a rather unique vantage point on them (especially compared to any other King characters).

      So, for me, the novel may not entirely work, but it certainly wasn't because Jamie bored me. I thought that if the novel had just been 800 pages of Jamie struggling to reconcile how good his life had managed to become, that would have been okay with me. Forget the foofaraw about the preacher and his lightning.

      I also would have to say that I didn't find "Doctor Sleep" to be guilty of turning Danny into a bore, either. I didn't feel as if his struggle ever went away; instead, King was writing -- with what I assume to be knowing honesty -- about a guy who had managed to get back on track, but was having to fight that fight on a daily basis. And every single day, he won.

      I guess I can see how that might bore some, but it certainly didn't bore me.

      Chris, I read the novel "Die Hard" was based on loooooong ago, but I've totally forgotten it. What happens at the end?

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    3. What happens at the end of the novel Die Hard is based around?

      Well, for one thing, it's a daughter, not the wife that's taken hostage, and she plummets to her death along with Gruber.

      ...No sadly, I did not make that up. Also, there's a scene with the Powell character and the ballet dancer like in the movie, however the ballet dancer grabs the Breakfast Club principle and uses him as a shield which takes Powell's first bullets before going down himself.

      Oh, and the main character, named Joe Leland instead of McClain, has internal injuries so sever that's implied he'll be dead ten to five minutes after the closing sentence.

      ..........Merry Fracking Christmas!

      If I had to hazard a guess why Roderick Thorpe would end his novel, Nothing Lasts Forever, on such a down note, then my best guess is that he saw he had an A. Conan Doyle situation on his hands. Namely, he saw that if he gave his book a happy ending, and it was a success, then he knew his publishers would make him turn his detective character, who had already appeared in another novel titled "The Detective" (which was made into a 68 Frank Sinatra vehicle), into an ongoing series character, and I'm guessing that, much like the fictional Paul Sheldon, Thorpe didn't want to be tied down creatively like that.

      That's just my best guess. Either way, it's definite case of the movie being waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than it's source material. Also, no offense to Thorpe, but...

      ....Yippee-ki-yay Mother-

      ChrisC

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    4. They're using artillery on us!

      Okay, yeah, I kind of vaguely remember that ending now. I read that book during the era where I was reading a lot of novelizations (as well as more than a few novels marketed as novelizations), and I had something of the same experience with "Die Hard" as I had with "The Running Man" -- I wasn't allowed by my mom to see the movie, so I read the book, but somehow knew that that was NOT how the movie went.

      In the case of "The Running Man," though, I found that the book version stuck with me. I mean, you don't see me writing a Roderick Thorpe blog...

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    5. Oh man, I've got to track that book down. That has From Novel to Film written all over it!

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    6. It sure does! I would be excited to hear that was happening.

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  7. As someone who is within a year or two of Jamie at the end of Revival this was a tough book for me to read.

    I found the early parts painful to get through. That was due to how close it echoed my early years. Even more it pulled hard at the wounds me and my family endured during my mom's futile and painful two year battle with cancer. Plus the 'how to boil a frog' analogy also hit home on a personal level as my list of aches and pains grow.

    So this one is a difficult one for me to rank because of that. Certainly not in his upper tier. Somewhere in the middle feels about right for now.

    I agree with you Bryant the early part of the book seems at odds with the latter part. Jamie's motivation for participating in the final sequence was tenuous as well.

    A re-read of this down the road to truly settle on a ranking is needed.

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    1. I'm going to try to tackle that around the beginning of the year -- time has not been plentiful lately.

      I hear what you're saying about personally identifying with the novel. It's always (for me) both cool and horrible when you find yourself with those personal connections to a book like this. I got some of that with my recent reread of "Needful Things."

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  8. I just read this, and I agree with your review. I loved the book, for the most part, but the ending felt disappointing. I didn't really feel it is a scary ending, though (many of the critics seemed to think so). I feel the 'coming of age' and the more nostalgic elements of the book worked better than the sudden Lovecraftian ending. Also, I liked Charlie for most of the book and wanted a better ending for him, but eh. I reviewed both "Joyland" and "Doctor Sleep" on my site, and agree that this one is probably better than Doc Sleep, but doesn't even approach Joyland, Duma Key or 11/22/63.

    Also also, glad to see the Kingverse version of Neil Diamond apparently survived Captain Trips.

    P.S. Really cool blog! Added it to favorites, to read more later on.

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    1. Thanks! Glad to see I've collected another "Duma Key" admirer -- that one is underrated, in my opinion.

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    2. I actually think Duma Key had some cool, new & original scares in it. And a good finale. It was a very imaginative book, one of King's best, and it really stands out.

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  9. For the benefit of anyone who is still waiting for me to give this book a reread (and a reappraisal in blog form), good news: I've finished the reread, and hope to hammer out three posts about it in the next week or two.

    The short version: I liked it more this time, but still have the same fundamental problems with certain aspects of it. But on the whole, my estimation of it increased considerably.

    I'll update with links once the posts go up.

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    1. The links to those posts (which ended being four in number) are as follows:

      http://thetruthinsidethelie.blogspot.com/2016/12/its-fragile-beauty-revival-revisited.html

      http://thetruthinsidethelie.blogspot.com/2016/12/something-happened-revival-revisited.html

      http://thetruthinsidethelie.blogspot.com/2017/01/all-that-shit-starts-with-e-revival.html

      http://thetruthinsidethelie.blogspot.com/2017/01/all-way-around-robin-hoods-barn-revival.html

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  10. Zoe brought up many interesting points and qualms I experienced after finishing Revival, a good month ago.

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    1. Yeah, she had some great analysis. I wish she had her own King-related blog! I'd read that sucker regularly.

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